Friday, July 20, 2012

A Perfect Curve

I suppose that every rider experiences times when he has more difficulty riding well than at other times.  I sometimes find myself 50 pencing around a curve, taking the wrong lines, or doing something else not quite right.  Most of the time I recognize this, and make a mental note to do better.  And, frequently, I consciously practice some specific skill when I go out riding. 
English 50 pence coin

Other times, I feel as though I am in the groove: The lines are right, the actions are smooth, and as a result, it feels good mentally -- and in the seat of my pants.

While we're discreetly talking about the latter, I think many sports including motorcycle riding are exciting and enjoyable because of that feeling you get there.  The engineer in me believes it is the acceleration we feel when we put the bike into a corner with some gusto, or when we turn a finely-suspended car sharply into a curve, when we twist the throttle or mash the accelerator, or when we begin down the first hill of a roller coaster.  That feeling we get in the seat of our pants, and in turn, in our brains, gives us a rush. 

Well, the other day, I went for a ride along a familiar road nearby.  It was one of those days when I felt much more in control.  There is one curve on this road that is preceded and followed by straight sections, so there is plenty of time to prepare for it.  The sight distance around the curve is very good, without trees or mountainside obscuring the view around the bend.  The radius is constant, the road is clean of debris, and the surface is as uniform as it can be on a public road.

The curve in question is the one near the arrow on the map below.  
(Note the similar curve, in the opposite direction, further on from that one.) 

I usually take the curve at forty miles per hour.  That day, I did it at fifteen higher.   ...and it felt good.  Very good.  The lean angle was greater, of course.  There was no 50 pencing.  I looked through the curve toward just the right point of exit.  I leaned my upper body earnestly in the direction I was looking.  I opened the throttle a bit on the way in, and accelerated on the way out, thereby causing the bike to straighten up nicely.

Come to think about it, a while back, I wrote about the fact that looking where you want to go works for other activities besides riding a motorcycle.  FastFred, the motorcycling/kayaking writer of a couple of quotes I cited there, has recently posted a video of him riding his Electra Glide Standard, pulling a trailer with his kayak on it, up the crookedest road I have ever seen.  I wrote about that road, Green River Cove Road, earlier, too.

Here is a look at the 1.4 mile twisty section of that road:

View Larger Map

It is uphill going to the south.

FastFred's video is taken using a camera mounted on his kayak on the trailer, so it shows his actions from behind, particularly the lean angle.  On the map, it begins at Pushpin "A" and concludes at Pushpin "B."

(By the way, notice that FastFred's stylish rat tail is infinitely longer than mine.)

Since this road is, shall we say, somewhat twisty, Fred has to swivel his head tightly to the right or left so he can look where he wants to go.  Since he also has to lean the bike a lot on many of the turns, and he is going uphill, he has to look up to look at the road ahead.

That combination of having to look to the side and up means that some neck exercises would be of benefit.

This video, narrated by someone from New Yawk, shows what you can do to limber up those old bones:

I feel looser already!

I hope I remain "in the groove" for many a curve in the future.

How about you?  Do you get into the groove, too? 



Friday, July 13, 2012

Hold on!

You know that cash you have in your pocket and in your bank account?

Maybe a little extra in there to spend on a hobby -- like, say, owning a motorcycle? 

Well, you are not going to have as much of it next year.

And, it will be harder for you to keep your job or find another one.

"Why is that? " you might ask.

Here's why: The government is going to take much more money away from all tax paying Americans, and spend it the way they see fit instead of the way you do.  We're talking trillions of dollars here. 

Read on, from the Heritage Foundation:
On January 1st, American taxpayers will experience the largest tax increase in U.S. history. As the ball drops on the New Year, we will experience an immediate $500 billion tax hike and the Mainstream Media is doing everything it can to avoid covering this fact.
For those Americans struggling to find a job, this massive tax increase will not make it any easier. Sadly, Liberals in Washington and political commentators are already salivating over the idea of additional taxes. They cannot stand the idea of a federal government that lives within its means.

The coming tax increases will be devastating. Every American that pays taxes will see their rate go up. The small business tax rate will grow to nearly 40 percent. The alternative minimum tax [AMT] will grow from 4 million to 31 million victims. The death tax will take half of what many Americans leave behind when they die. The capital gains rate will rise from 15 to 24 percent, and the top dividend rate will rise from 15 to 45 percent. The marriage penalty will return, and the child tax credit will be cut in half. Obamacare will impose 20 new or higher taxes on families and small employers, including a new tax on medical devices like braces and pacemakers.  

As you approach election season, it is vitally important that you ask candidates and elected officials about the coming Taxmageddon: do they support raising taxes on millions of Americans or will they fight for lower taxes and less government spending?

You have the right to know where your elected officials and candidates for office stand on important issues. One of the best ways to know where a candidate stands on taxes is the Taxpayer Protection Pledge. Currently, 238 members of the U.S. House of Representatives and 41 U.S. Senators have taken the Pledge, which is a written commitment to oppose net tax hikes. In addition, there are over 247 candidates running for Congress that have made that same commitment.

Click here to see if your candidate or elected official has signed the Taxpayer Protection Pledge.
[Our illustrious South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham is now reneging on that pledge]

President Obama has promised to let the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts expire. If this happens, the only way to immediately reverse Taxmageddon in 2013 is to elect officials who promise to oppose higher taxes. Candidates who sign the Taxpayer Protection Pledge have made that promise to taxpayers.

Elected officials will only focus on reining in Washington’s irresponsible spending binge when tax hikes are taken off the table. The first step in that process is making sure they promise to hold the line on taxes.

Grover Norquist,
Americans for Tax Reform

The Great Depression in the 1930s and early 1940s was deepened and extended by increases in taxation.  We are about to repeat that mistake.  Nothing is "free."  Every dollar government spends comes from the pocket of a taxpayer, and prevents the use of that money in the private sector to promote growth and thereby create jobs. 

Recall that about half(!) of the people in the United States pay no income taxes.  They, and select companies favored by the government, are the ones getting your hard-earned money.

Oh.  I almost forgot.  Government-administered health insurance -- sometimes referred to as "free" health insurance by those who wish to deceive -- will become much more costly to you or your employer, and even if you don't want to buy it or don't need it, you will soon pay a penalty of more than $2000 a year

Get ready to be poorer...or vote the liberal bums out of office in November who tax us and spend our hard-earned money recklessly.  

If we get rid of these spendthrift politicians, we will be free to spend our money the way we want to -- and continue to enjoy riding that bike if we choose to!  


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Independence Day!

Today is a great day in the history of the United States, but we may not thoroughly understand its meaning.

This article, from the Heritage Foundation blog, explains: 

America, the Great Beacon of Liberty
Posted By Israel Ortega On July 2, 2011

The signing of the Declaration of Independence was a glorious day for our country’s history. With a stroke of a pen, our founders sealed an enduring document representing the triumph of liberty over tyranny. And yet, centuries after this, one of the most important events in our country’s history, it’s easy to gloss over the Fourth of July as just another holiday.

To appreciate why our independence from the British crown is not only a cause worth celebrating, but also defending, we must remember what our founding fathers fought and died for.

As the history books tell us, our country’s struggle for independence was not easy. Besides being clearly outnumbered and lacking an organized army, the world looked skeptically at our cause. In a world where kingdoms and monarchies were the norm, the idea that governments must derive their just powers from the consent of the governed was indeed revolutionary. In short, the prevailing wisdom was that mankind could not govern itself.

And yet, thousands upon thousands of American colonists joined the fight for independence despite the seemingly insurmountable odds. What compelled so many to fight, knowing that they could easily perish against the greatest naval power of the day?

Perhaps one of the most revealing answers to this question was given by Captain Levi Preston, a Revolutionary War veteran, decades after the fight for independence. In historian Matthew Spalding’s book “Why We Still Hold These Truths,” we learn that Captain Preston was not motivated to fight because of the Stamp Act or after reading the writings of John Locke. Instead, Captain Scott responded, “…What we meant in going for those redcoats was this: we always had governed ourselves, and we always meant to. They didn’t mean we should.”

This pithy but powerful sentiment conveys man’s strong, simple desire to live free — and helps explain why we have always been skeptical of being told what to do.

Of course, summoning the will to fight is one thing, but agreeing to tough it out when the surroundings are bleak is a distinctly different proposition. And yet that’s precisely what every soldier in the revolutionary army did as they faced the elements, lost limbs, shed blood and went for days without food — all for the cause of independence and freedom. As Thomas Paine so eloquently put it, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”

And in one of the most remarkable expressions of blind determination and bravery, the man who would later become our first president would lead an expedition on the choppy and icy waters of the Delaware River to capture and kill nearly 1,000 Hessians in the Battle of Trenton.

This scene was far removed from the hot and humid Assembly Room in Philadelphia where our Founding Father’s first gathered to sign the Declaration of Independence on that fourth day of July, 1776. We celebrate this day, and not other decisive days in our country’s fight for independence — and yet they are no less significant.

The ideas embodied in the Declaration of Independence are worth celebrating and defending, particularly today. All around us, we are witnessing an insidious encroachment on our liberties by an ever-more intrusive and far-reaching federal government that promises us the world.
On this Fourth of July, let’s pause to reflect on our country’s anniversary of independence, but also its struggle. And let us remember that at that heart of what makes our country is exceptional is our country’s founding, rooted in the triumph of liberty over tyranny.

Israel Ortega is the Editor of Heritage Libertad, the Spanish language page of The Heritage Foundation.


Enjoy your holiday...
...and your precious freedom.